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The Nice - Keith Emerson And The Nice: Vivacitas CD (album) cover


The Nice


Symphonic Prog

3.49 | 16 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Hanging on to the dream

The first gig I ever went to was Emerson Lake and Palmer playing at the legendary Green's Playhouse in Glasgow in the early 1970's. It is fitting (for me) then that Emerson should choose to record this live album within a Tarkus breath from that venue at the superb Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow. The RCH is actually more used to gigs of a more up-market nature, such as classical recitals and the annual "Celtic connections" festival, with rock bands usually playing venues such as the Clyde Auditorium, SECC, Barrowlands, Carling Academy etc.

This of course is not ELP, but a reunion of Keith Emerson with Lee Jackson and Brian Davison, his erstwhile colleagues from The Nice. Dave Kilmister joins this line up and the four toured together in 2001/2 as Keith Emerson and The Nice, the gigs being neatly split into two distinct sections. Disc one here covers the first half of the performance, which is dedicated to reviving songs which originally appeared on albums by that band.

As Lee Jackson says after the opening run through of "America" and "Rondo" plus sundry other familiar melodies, "not bad for a 32 year gap". Jackson's distinctive tones have altered little over the years, his signing on a rather subdued "Little Arabella" being as throaty and distinctive as ever. The wonderful "Hang on to a dream" sounds as fresh as it ever did, this rendition including a soft shuffling jazz interlude.

The version of "The Karelia suite" here sounds a little too like one of those awful tributes with Emerson simply rattling out the melody on a prosaic sounding synth. It certainly lacks the majesty and power of the "Five Bridge" version.

Disc 2 sees the Nice departing the stage, and Emerson returning to perform a couple of tracks taken from his solo albums, alone on piano. He is then rejoined by a Dave Kilmister and two new musicians. Phil Williams and Pete Riley take on the roles of Lake and Palmer for a run through of four ELP favourites, including a complete rendition of "Tarkus". Listening to this version for the first time is rather disconcerting as there are initially no vocals, the vocals refrains being replaced by the lead guitar of Kilmister (a Karaoke version indeed!). Vocals do eventually appear for the "Battlefield" section which includes the diversion into an extract from King Crimson's "Epitaph" that first appeared on the "Welcome back my friends.." album.

Jackson and Davidson actually return to the stage for a spirited run through of "Fanfare for the common man". Here we have an enjoyable duel between Emerson on keyboards and Kilmister on guitar, even if it does at times seem like something of a battle!

I find the title of the third disc ("Interview with Chris Welch") misleading, but it could just be me. It is in fact Chris Welch interviewing the three members of the Nice involved in the reunion gig. The guys spend over 20 minutes reminiscing and swapping anecdotes about their time together.

"Vivicacas" is first and foremost an exercise in nostalgia. For those who have enjoyed the music of the Nice and ELP in the past, this is through a worthwhile investment.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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